“When you look at the world what do you see?” I encountered this question a short while ago when I was browsing the internet for interesting things to read, and I came upon a blog written by an old high-school-mate. Needless to say, the article (and the blog itself) is wonderful, and this question has been on the back of my mind since then. It’s come up so many times, and is always nagging at me. When I look at the world, what do I see?
This used to be a difficult question for me to answer because it seemed like one that had too simple of an answer, and I was frustrated because I knew that there had to be more than just ‘I see what’s in front of me’. I was right in that there is something more than just the facade of our surroundings, but it took three-and-a-half years and a study session with my favorite professor for me to really be able to answer that question.
My junior year of high school, I was fortunate enough to be able to lead a retreat that my home diocese puts on for juniors and seniors, called SEARCH. While this retreat helped facilitate a major turning point in my faith, it also helped plant the seed of what reality is, because when I lead SEARCH I had to give a talk about reality and I had no idea what to say. When I was brainstorming, our youth director came up to me and gave this simple little nugget of advice, saying, “Essentially, when sh*t hits the fan and you’re trying to find something to hold on to, if you’re not looking straight at Christ then you need to readjust your priorities”. At first I thought this was way too simple of an answer, but three and a half years later of struggling to learn what real life is like, it makes so much sense in so many ways.
My favorite professor in what is probably the best class I will ever take in the entirety of my academic career touched on our culture’s view of reality, as well. He took about ten to fifteen minutes to explain that, contrary to the ideals in our culture of skepticism, everything–every blade of grass on the ground, every raindrop that falls, every grain of sand beneath the sea, every hair on our heads, every inch between us and the sun, every atom that makes up every cell of our bodies, etc–everything is for a reason, and is for us. And because it’s all for a reason, and it’s all for us as a part of God’s plan, it is good. At its core, everything–no matter what’s happening in our lives right now–everything is, in its very essence and existence, okay.
Now I could go into the philosophical arguments from contingency and divine attributes to prove it, but I’ll spare y’all the time. Essentially though, because God is sheer Goodness, and sheer Beauty, and sheer Truth, and sheer Being, and sheer Love, everything that he creates is good. And everything that he creates is created and given to us by Love. Which means that when we’re looking at this massive masterpiece that is the world that he’s given us to live in, we aren’t just looking at grass. We aren’t just looking at the sky. We aren’t just looking at some buildings or plants or rocks or hills or roads. We aren’t just looking at other human beings. We’re looking at gifts. We’re looking at other beings and things that are in their very nature and essence, good, and are being held in existence by Love. And that is what is real.
My tagline for this blog is “coming from Love and running towards Love”, not because I’m shamelessly obsessed with all of the different kinds of love and how love manifests itself throughout our lives, but because I am–we are–created by and coming from Love, and running towards it every day.
I recently fell in love with a music group called Mandolin Orange (whose most recent album this blog is named for), and one of their songs on this album is called “Little Worlds”. It talks about watching the waves from the mountain tops and the rocks sliding through the clouds, and how even though the world will end and all of these beautiful things and persons will end with it, he’ll still be watching with “fire lit eyes”.
I’m almost positive that this song was written about and for another person, but to me it speaks to what I see when I look at the world. I see the intrinsic beauty that’s laced within the very being of my surroundings. I see the magical qualities in something as simple as a smile or the leaves changing in the fall. I see and experience the love that is the ultimate cause and author of these beautiful things and people that surround me, and I see it with “fire lit eyes” because I want to run towards that love for as long as I have legs to carry me, and I never want to lose that fire.
“And little worlds hung on fire lit eyes
Tryin’ to come a little closer now
Cause you alone steal every heart
And you alone shall be
Just a world I never knew
And the only one I see”
Little Worlds by Mandolin Orange.